In this series of posts, the focus is on concepts you can leverage at the onset of the communication process (when you know what you want to communicate, but before you've actually started crafting the communication itself). Previously, we've covered the 3-minute story and the Big Idea.

Today, we'll focus on storyboarding.

Storyboarding is perhaps the single most important thing you can do up front to ensure the communication you're crafting is on point. The storyboard establishes a structure for your communication. It's basically an outline. It can be subject to change as you work through the details, but establishing a structure at the onset will set you up for success. When you can (and as makes sense), get buy-in from your client or stakeholder at this step. It will help ensure what you're planning is in line with the need and reduce downstream iterations.

My #1 tip for storyboarding is: don't start with your presentation software. It's too easy to go into slide-creating-mode without thinking about how the pieces fit together and end up with a massive deck that says nothing effectively. I highly recommend going low tech here: leverage a whiteboard, post-it notes, or plain old paper. Personally, I like using post-it notes when I storyboard, because you can rearrange (and add and remove) the pieces easily and explore different narrative flows.

In prior posts, I've used the example of the summer learning program on science. If we're storyboarding this communication, it might look something like the following:

Note that in this case, the Big Idea is at the end. Perhaps we'd want to consider leading with that to ensure our audience doesn't miss the main point, and to help set up why we're communicating to them and why they should care in the first place.

In my opinion, the communication process (whether you're communicating with data or otherwise) shouldn't start with the creation of the communication. Rather, it should start with reflection on the context. Who are you communicating to? What do you need them to know or do? Once you've answered those questions, leverage the 3-minute storyBig Idea, and storyboarding to set yourself up for success when crafting your communication and delivering your message.